2003 News Article


Someof you may be aware of a project underway to genetically analyze thedistribution of families with names that sound like "St*rling". Severalparticipants have now been tested and received results back from thelab, and so we have successfully identified the "genetic signature" ofthe Starling/Sterling line that arrived in Accomac County, Virginia inthe late 1600s.

We need to recruit people from all theSt*rling lines: Sterlings from the Lyme, Connecticut branch, ScottishStirlings, Starlings in the UK and Australia. We welcome all comers,especially people with well-fleshed-out family trees.

The purposes of this effort are several:

  1. Thewritten records for many of our lines go back only a few hundred years,but our Y-chromosomes are useful in tracking backwards for thousands ofyears. Though we may never know the details of how we are related,through Y-DNA testing we should be able to prove that some of oursurname groups are--indelibly--family.
  2. Developinggenetic signatures for various lines may show proximity, and helpresearchers determine where a group originated. Perhaps someone namedSterling in Australia has no idea where his forebears came from--but byhaving his DNA tested, he may find that his "genetic signature" matchesthe Soderlings of Oslo, the Starlings of Norwich or the Asteritas ofMadrid. Such a boost can be of enormous help in genealogical research,as most of you probably recognize.
  3. It's interesting and groundbreaking. This is a revolutionary new approach to genealogy, and it's exciting just to be part of it.
  4. Itplaces your genealogy research in the context of the development of thefamily of man. Given ongoing research in haplotypes and other geneticmarkers, we may be able to track the migration of our sperm-line backthousands of years. Was the first St*rling a Celt? A Goth? When didthey arrive in Britain? As more and more people are tested, researchersare able to attach a probability to these things, and they becomeknowable. In the Accomac Starling/Sterling research, we've found thatour "genetic signature" is extremely distinctive and has a fairly rarestructure. While there are no closely related lines in the publiclyaccessible European or North American databases, we do find distantrelatives (dozens if not hundreds of generations' separation) locatedin Eastern Austria.

The restrictions are two-fold:

  1. Onlymen can submit genetic material to the project, since only men carry aY-chromosome. There is a test women can take, the mtDNA or"mitochondrial DNA", but it tracks descent along the egg-line, not thesperm-line, so it is not useful for surname tracking. Our interest atthis time is surname tracking.
  2. Becausewe're part of a surname project, we get a discount, and the test costsonly $100 US. Because I've been asked before, I'll tell you that noneof that money goes to me or anyone else in the project. It is the feecharged by the lab, FamilyTreeDNA, and it is the lowest-priced alternative we were able to locate.

A site has been set up with the results and additional information.


You can submit a request to join the project here:


Please consider joining! The more participants, the better the results.

Rick Stirling, St*rling DNA Project Administrator